ARARAT - The Ararat Olympic Outdoor Pool was given another lifeline during an emotion fuelled council meeting on Tuesday night.
At last month's meeting Ararat Rural City councillors voted five to two in favour of closing the pool permanently and demolishing the site.
This week's council meeting was forced to be moved to the Ararat Performing Arts Centre as more than 200 concerned community members turned out to show support of resurrecting the pool.
Cr Gwenda Allgood once again took a stand and moved a motion to rescind the resolution reached at the September meeting that 'the Ararat Olympic Pool be closed permanently, the site be secured and demolition and rehabilitation of the site proceed with consideration being given to the installation of a water play facility for the area'.
The announcement drew rapturous applause from the large crowd, with Cr Allgood making a passionate appeal.
"I just think that the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Swimming Pool was built by this community for this community and I really do believe that we need to go back to our community, you people and ask are you prepared to actually have this pool?" Cr Allgood said.
"I as a councillor I stand here tonight in front of you saying that I believe we should be refurbishing that pool. We have had offers from everywhere - people have put their hands up, people have done fundraising, we've had Ambrose (Cashin), we've had Sandy (Laidlaw), we've had the Save Our Pool committee, we've had rallies and petitions. Everything a council could ask for.
"I am almost on my knees tonight councillors, give this pool back to the community, let them tell us what they want to do. I employ you, please, do not demolish that pool."
Cr Garry Hull supported Cr Allgood's sentiments and said he believed council must hold further discussions with the Save Our Pool committee about other options available 'due to the overwhelming support from the residents of this city to save this pool.
"We cannot dismiss their commitment or this issue and as an elected councillor I urge all councillors to support this very important motion," he said
Cr Fay Hull spoke against the motion, once again stating that she was concerned with the burden a required rate rise would have should the project go ahead.
"I can understand the emotion that followed the council decision to decommission the outdoor pool, but what I find difficult is the level of misinformation included in community protest," she said.
"The indoor complex has a limited life, is tired and is currently inadequate in some areas meaning that council has to consider options for renewing, upgrading and replacing it in the not so distant future. This will also incur an additional rate burden and that has to be considered along with plans to provide an outdoor facility.
"Protesters have a right to express their wishes in regard to the pool, but they must do so based on sound principles and a full understanding of what they are asking for, particularly on ratepayers. I need to have strong arguments if I am going to support the decision to decommission the pool."
Cr Hull's objection towards the refurbishment was supported by Cr Colin McKenzie and Cr Ian Harris.
The motion appeared unlikely to gather enough support until Cr Paul Hooper spoke
"I've thought deeply about this rescindment motion over the last 24 hours and I have decided to support Cr Allgood," he said.
"However, nobody should think for a moment that I will support a complete refurbishment, but I am very happy to talk about where we sit and whether we go forward or not isn't guaranteed yet."
With the vote locked at three councillors in favour and three against the casting vote was left to Ararat Rural City mayor, Cr Ian Wilson, however before Cr Wilson announced his stand on the matter a 15 minute break in proceedings was sensationally called 'to discuss some procedural matters'.
When councillors returned to the chamber Cr Ian Harris moved an additional amendment which stated 'the motion as moved by Cr Allgood stands as the first part of the motion and that the second part of the motion be that the pool remains closed pending further consultation and a report on future options be presented back to Council'.
Cr Fay Hull said the amendment gives councillors the opportunity to find out what other avenues are available to them.
"We have to know in consultation with the community exactly what options there are, which perhaps will not involve a 4.5 percent rate rise," she said.
"If we can come up with an option that is acceptable to everyone, which is at the right price and is of the right accommodation for the majority, then we as councillors are happy to do that."
The amendment was agreed on unanimously by all councillors and was moved.
A public meeting with the Save Our Pool committee, councillors and the general public to explain the costs associated with the refurbishment of the Ararat Outdoor Olympic Swimming Pool was also agreed to, with the date to be announced in the near future.